I’m sure you’re aware that the general rule of thumb is that you need one litter box per cat, plus an extra somewhere else in the home.
However, if you’re short of space and live in a small apartment, do you really need 2 litter boxes for just one cat?
The good news is – no, you don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, having an extra box is good advice and it certainly helps. But it’s not an absolute necessity.
I’ve lived with one box and one cat before. I’ve also had two boxes for two cats for a number of years, all without any issues.
So, it’s completely possible. There are some drawbacks, however, and I’ll get into those in this article. Here’s everything you need to know about good litter box etiquette!
How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have?
As I said above, the rule of thumb for as long as I can remember has always been 1 litter box for each cat in the home + 1 more.
So, the basics on that are:
- 1 cat = 2 litter boxes
- 2 cats = 3 litter boxes
- 3 cats = 4 litter boxes
And so on, I think you get the idea!
I’ve even talked about this with my vet before, and they said the same thing. It’s not just an old wives’ tale, it’s the general advice veterinarians and pet professionals will give you.
What Happens If You Don’t Have Enough Litter Boxes?
Depending on the age of your cat, they’re going to poop daily and pee a few times. (this increases with age)
So, the most obvious thing to point out is that the fewer litter boxes you have the more often you’ll have to clean it.
Cats are clean animals, if their box is dirty there’s a chance they will try and find somewhere else to go. If they only have one box, this might mean your rug, the bathtub, or worse!
If you have more than one cat in your household, no matter how well they get along they need their own space. It’s a territorial thing that goes on between cats.
For two cats, giving them at least a box each is pretty essential. Trying to clean up after two cats in the same box is just going to be a nightmare.
If you have more than one floor in your home, it’s also recommended you place one box on each floor. This will help your cats feel more comfortable roaming the house as they don’t have as far to go to the bathroom.
I know what you’re thinking, “lazy, spoiled cats”, and you’re right!
Related – How to deal with a cat middening problem.
Can I Put Two Litter Boxes Next to Each Other?
For most people, positioning litter boxes is the biggest headache of owning a cat.
Let’s be honest, they’re pretty big, they don’t fit in with the decor, they smell after being used, and we’d rather just have them out of sight, wouldn’t we?
But they are a necessity. Unless you have a well trained outdoor cat, however. But that’s a topic for another day.
Focusing back on indoor cats or cats that like to use their boxes, most people end up with a spot they want to use for litter trays. Typically in a bathroom, utility room, garage, or somewhere out of the way.
If you have more than one box, you’re going to want to put them in the same location too.
This is another thing that vet’s and cat behavioral experts are going to advise against. They’ll say that you should place one box per floor, on opposite sides of the house, and not next to each other.
This is great advice. However, I have put two boxes close together in the same room before and it was perfectly fine.
So, again, it’s about giving it a go and making the best of the situation. I kept on top of cleaning them out to make sure I didn’t give my cats any excuses to poop outside of their boxes, and it worked.
Help – My Cat Isn’t Using Their Litter Box!
If you’re having issues with your cat not using their box, don’t panic. You’re not the first person to have this issue, and you won’t be the last.
It may be due to not having enough boxes, but there may be another reason.
Here are the most common causes of a cat that stops using their litter box, see if you can relate one or more of these reasons to your situation:
They don’t like the litter – This is a really common problem in my experience. Even if they previously liked the litter, something can cause them to suddenly not feel comfortable using it.
How to fix this – This is an easy one, try a different litter.
They don’t like the location – Cats prefer to do their business in private, and who can blame them! If their box is somewhere noisy or where a lot of people pass by, don’t be surprised if they don’t like it.
How to fix this – Try placing their box(es) in different locations.
It’s not clean enough – I’m not trying to call you out for slacking on cleaning duties. It can take just one experience of a dirty box to freak them out and cause them to poop somewhere else. That’s one time too many I’m sure you’ll agree.
How to fix this – Give it a deep scrub and start again.
They don’t like the style – This is also something that can change over time. As cats age, sometimes they need easier access to their box. You might have to switch out an enclosed one for a lower open-sided box.
How to fix this – Try a more accessible design.
I hope you found the advice in this article useful. It’s one of the rare ones where I’m advocating breaking all the rules!
Only because it’s always worked out perfectly for me having one litter tray per cat.
There are no guarantees though. All you can do is try and use a litter box set up that works for your home and see how it goes.
It’s recommended that you have 3 litter boxes in the home if you have 2 cats. That’s one litter box each, plus an extra. I used two for years as I explain here.
For multi-cat households, the minimum recommended number of litter boxes is 1 per cat plus another. For 4 cats and upwards the more litter boxes the better, you’ll have quite the task on your hands keeping them all clean. You can find out more here.
Image credits – Header image by Patrick Reichboth, grey cat by Max Baskakov on Unsplash